Amidst all the hoopla of a major national election and all that entails, it is sometimes easy to forget that democracy is about a lot more than just electing a president. It is also about electing all those people who actually keep things functioning - the ones who make sure the schools run well, that the garbage gets picked up on time, that your streets are filled with endless construction "for the good of the town" for six months before any election...
Today municipal elections are being held all over Israel. Citizens throughout the country are choosing their mayor and town or city council members. It is a two-pronged system - the mayor is chosen individually and the council is chosen via list. You vote for a list of candidates (members of a particular national, or often strictly local, party). The number of candidates receiving seats is determined by their proportional share of the vote. Since it is almost unheard of for any one list to receive a clear majority, the actual government is made up of whatever coalition of various groups the new mayor (or prime minister, since our national government is a coalition one as well) can cobble together.
Elections in my small city are surprisingly acrimonious, with poisonous mud flung in all directions as everyone tries to grab that piece of the pie. It bothered me more until someone explained to me years ago that these same men (for yes, they're all men at the top of the list in this town) have been fighting and slinging that same mud at each other since they were schoolchildren. The accusations on all sides are serious, and I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in between, but at least this year I felt my vote was clear. The incumbent may have a lot of enemies, and he may or may not have a penchant for strong-arm tactics, but so far it's all rumor and innuendo, and I haven't seen anyone else behaving much better. At least this guy is fixing the things that *I* believe were wrong with the city - the schools are vastly improved, particularly ours, the town's infrastructure has been upgraded, there are now flowers everywhere, a lot of dead weight was culled out of city hall (that one right there created half the enemy list), things here are BETTER than they were. The city LOOKS good now, inviting, like a place that you would want to live, and sure enough people are noticing, and coming. There are new restaurants, good ones, sprouting up like mushrooms. People are actually coming here from other towns to go out for Friday breakfast now. Imagine that. When I moved in about thirteen years ago there wasn't a cafe to be had, and now I have my choice of about 8 within a reasonable walking distance. The quality of the special education services too has surprised me for the better at every turn.
Whether I love him or hate him is irrelevant though. What is important is that I put my money where my mouth is and exercised my civic duty to vote. Not just for the big sexy national elections, but for the little ones that in their own way have just as much, or more, influence on my day to day life.
So I voted this morning. Or rather, my son did (yes, he of letter-writing fame). Which you would see here if he wasn't so impatient to vote that he stuffed the two envelopes into the ballot box and started to move away before I managed to snap the shot. (Yes, they let him go behind the curtain with me. He read the slips of paper, chose the correct ones, put them in the envelopes, sealed those envelopes, and then stuck them in the ballot box - by himself, as his proud mama looked on.)
You can't see him actually cast
Any questions? Go ahead and ask 'em. I'm still welcoming blog fodder after all, despite my burying my request under new posts.